Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Breathing Deeply Walking Backwards

The last crazy month has seen my blogging drop to an all time low, kept on life support by the weekly challenge of Team Up Thursday. It's funny because my mother often says 'you have to stop doing so much, you have to give something up' and yet, it is those little obligations and commitments that sometimes keep you from going completely over the edge when all around threatens to overwhelm you.When I left the UK in 2002, I was selling my house, finishing up my job and directing and performing in a pantomime, all at the same time. Shortly after the commencement of rehearsals, the girl who had agreed to design and paint sets pulled out due to other commitments and I found myself, on my afternoons off, alone in the church hall painting scenery. I drew up

fantastic fantasy scenes; selected and mixed colours; experimented with textured effects and saw the blank canvases take on shape and form.

Village scene, based on the port of Mousehole in Cornwall.
Note tiny BA concentrating on her dancing 5th from right.

Jungle scene. Yours truly as Robinson Crusoe with man Friday!

The ruined temple with the sensational idol painted by a dear friend who'd 'never done anything like this before...'

Often this activity would be sandwiched between work and picking the BA up from school. There would be a rushed trip back to Grandma's and then I was back to the hall to finish up the painting. My mother, left in charge of feeding and organising the BA would say to me "You take on too much. You're running yourself ragged! You

need to take some time for yourself," and one day I replied, "Mum, this painting IS the thing I'm doing for myself". It's kind of like that with blogging, and especially the Team Up challenge. Yes, I could lose it and focus on the endless list of 'jobs to do' and perhaps I would achieve more, but at what cost? Anyway, on my second 'child free' night I find myself moved to fill you in on some of the things that have been occupying me in the last month.

The list of jobs can wait.

Let me start with the Baby Angel. This moniker is becoming less and less apt as her 15th birthday approaches

and she unfolds her glorious wings. I can't believe that two years ago I titled this photo 'Grown Up':

look at this:

But of course, with this unfolding and emerging comes the inevitable pain.

The new school has brought, as we had hoped, more academic rigour and a better atmosphere for study but this has been a difficult transition for the BA. Gone are the days of goofing off in class and 'I did my homework at

school'. There have been a few ' notes in the diary'; you know, the 'BA has not handed up her assignment' kind of notes >:-(. As well as chasing the 50% of my classes who do not believe a due date has any meaning beyond a

point at which you ask for an extension, I have to hound the BA to ensure she is up to date with work. It's not that she's lazy, no, and parents bear this in mind, it is that she has such high expectations of herself that she is afraid to start. It's like being at the bottom of a mountain and looking up at what you have to conquer. It's

daunting. Easier not to start. So imagine her excitement and pride when a recent piece of writing for English earned her this:

I'm not sure if you can see it but it is the marking rubric for narrative writing. (The BA's school does the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Middle Years Program leading up to it. Like many senior programs

nowadays, assessment is all about rubrics.) Out of 10, she got 10. In every criterion! But the effort is on-going. I

aim to scaffold her organisation until she can take over herself and manage her workload.

In the third to last week of term reports were due. They have moved them up the calendar because people have been notoriously poor at getting them in on time. In the same week my beloved sister came for a 5 day visit and at the beginning of the week the Business Manager called to say the auditors had announced their annual visit for Wednesday of that week so could I please have all my accountability stuff ready....on the same day reports were due. I'm afraid something had to give and my sister took precedence. The reports were late.

We got through that.

In the last two weeks of term I had the financial nightmare from Hell. Taxman, Child Support Agency demands,

an car insurance claim against me from July last year (check it out July!!!!), and the classic catch 22 situation from the TAFE mob:

"Behold thy application for payment of fees by installment has been rejected because you do not have sufficient income. Thou must instead pay the whole amount up front."
Yeah right, cos I've certainly got enough income to do THAT!

We are working our way through all of that.

And then the holidays descended upon us. An enormous relief to be sure. There was time to check out the Northern Lights with A Free Family. It was a little more garish than the subtle and clever illuminations of 2008.

But still, a lovely evening with the excitement of young Boy Z an effervescent a tonic for the soul.

Yes, it all should have been relaxing except that in the first week I had both the kids at home.

To be fair, the BA on her own is fairly low maintenance, until you try and prise her off facebook, but Small Boy is an entirely different matter. He has two mates on the street and they inevitably end up at our place playing X Box. Now I have a conscientious objection to X Box and in particular the amount of time young boys today spend on the thing and even though the Small Boy and his mates are not actually mine I cannot, as a responsible adult, allow them to play for endless hours without a break. So my holiday consists of fighting with 11 years olds about whether they need to take a break from the X Box and why that break cannot involve moving to the computer and starting up a game of AdventureQuest or scooting once around the block and why it is important that they have other skills for playing in the real world; like building forts or making Lego towns and playing Cluedo or swear words Scrabble or something!!! And let me tell you, 11 year old boys do not thank you for your concern about their development and healthy lifestyle. To be equally fair, the same thing applies to trying to prise the BA off facebook lately. Especially since her dad bought her an ipodtouch!

What was he thinking???????

In the midst of all the battles there are little glimmers of joy.

This is my breakfast in bed, cooked for no reason and with no prompting by the Small Boy. Unfortunately it was delivered to us at 7.17am when we were sound asleep but hey! let's not look a gift horse in the mouth! In particular I would like to point out the smiley face made out of tomato sauce on the underside of the bread!
The Small Boy is starting to grow into his years, slowly but surely. Not having had boys myself I am a bit of a novice on the whole developmental thing for them but I can see that they mature more slowly than girls and when we compare what the BA did at the same age it is a pretty damning picture. To compound the problem, he is the youngest of five by 7 years with all the attendant baggage this brings. But lately, little gestures like the breakfast, and rudimentary attempts at room cleaning, suggest a growing maturity. And not a moment too soon. :-D

I just wish he would get a decent hair cut!

In the midst of our holidays, Mum and Dad have sold their house here in Australia. For the past 8 years they have been coming backwards and forwards to see us, spending the summer here and returning for spring and summer in the UK. Their house, with its little garden, has been left locked up or given to a variety of house-sitters to mind. This has cause my mother some anxiety over the years and she's decided that she can no longer cope with maintaining two households on opposite sides of the Earth. They got the price they wanted quite quickly and then

it was time to decide what to do with everything in the house. I put in my 'dibs', as it were, on a few items but after that they were prepared to leave things in the house or give them to charity. Having had some experience with how reluctant charities are to actually pick up furniture I suggested we put things on ebay. Thus I have spent the last week glued to ebay to see how our items were doing :-)

This has been my first experience of selling through ebay as I am usually the purchaser. It's quite addictive isn't it? We have sold four items, two did very well and two were 'bargains'. We're in the process of organising pickups and whatever now. Of course I have also had to clear and sort our place in order to make room for the new stuff coming in from mum and dad's so my mind has been pretty well occupied with furniture for the last week.

The Baby Angel flew out to Sydney on Monday. Here she is with her Grandma at the airport.

You have no idea how difficult it is to get my mother to smile for a photo.

BA: Smile Grandma
Mum: I am smiling
BA: Show your teeth
(on this command my mother, in a rather confused fashion bared her teeth somewhat like a gnarly rottweiler)
Us: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaahahahahhaah
Me: MOTHER! What are you doing?
Mum: Well, she said...
Me: Mother, it's not as if you've never had a photo taken before!!!!!!!!!


Thanks for your patience folks.

PS: I have reposted this after some problems with formatting but this unfortunately meant I lost the lovely comments from Elisa, JoLyn and Jill. Sorry ladies. I value and appreciate your comments.


SSG said...

What a lovely post! I actually like the Baby Angel as a name, I think you should continue using it, even when the BA is 40, she is still your baby afterall, and it's a cute name. My mum used to call me "Sausage" which isn't very cute at all :(

I am with you on the doing things front- though it is a fine line. I love "doing" and don't really like sitting still. But sometimes I say yes to too many things and feel like I can't give enough of my time and energy as I would like, and can feel overwhelmed. But if I have an afternoon free more than likely I'll be looking to fill it than thinking "phew, an afternoon off".xxx

Maggie said...


Hang in there...things always work themselves out eventually.